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EThekwini defends Durban Eye development, says project will be privately funded

An artist’s impression of a ferris wheel called the Durban Eye on the Durban promenade. Construction is set to begin in July and it is expected to launch in February 2023. Picture: Supplied.

An artist’s impression of a ferris wheel called the Durban Eye on the Durban promenade. Construction is set to begin in July and it is expected to launch in February 2023. Picture: Supplied.

Published May 13, 2022

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DURBAN - ETHEKWINI Municipality has defended the R450 million Durban Eye project, saying the development will form part of the municipality’s economic infrastructure that will draw tourists, stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

During the week of the Travel Indaba in the city, it announced that a multimillion-rand project would be built in Durban. The city already has several tourist destinations that include its own assets such as uShaka Marine World.

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Since the announcement, Durban residents have slammed the development, describing it as a vanity project.

However, the city yesterday said the Durban Eye Company was a private initiative with the municipality only providing land for the construction of the project.

It involves the development and installation of a giant Ferris wheel along the northern breakwaters on Vetch's Beach in the Point Waterfront precinct.

The municipality said the project includes a Ferris Wheel towering 60m in height, with complimentary product offerings which would include merchandising, food and beverage outlets in a permanent “carnival setting” with ample public open space, ablutions and amphitheatres.

The developer of the R450m Durban Eye has been appointed and was expected to start on-site in July. This project, once completed, would offer tourists a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of the city

“This is a city initiative as it relates to making the land available to the now pre-qualified bidder who will invest in the design, development, construction and operation and management of the facility at no cost to the municipality,” said municipality spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela.

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The city said after months of site analysis and evaluation, the northern breakwater was determined to be the most suitable and attractive setting for the proposed investment.

“The city has spent a significant amount of money on the promenade extension project, in part continuing the Durban story along its coastline, and against the backdrop of the success from the original upgrades ahead of the 2010 World Cup. Furthermore, our commitment as a city in ensuring that Point Waterfront as a precinct within the inner city continues to thrive.”

“The recently privately funded and built, new Passenger Cruise Terminal is a case in point, now that our investment in public infrastructure in the right areas is starting to yield dividends and will continue to do so as we continue to give confidence in the market,” said Mayisela.

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He said the Durban Eye project would generate revenue for the city through rentals, with inflation-linked escalations year-on-year over the proposed 30-year period, after which the municipality would inherit the asset and all building improvements.

“As a government, especially with the fiscal constraints experienced over the recent past and with a bearish future economic outlook, it becomes important that we continue to invest in economic infrastructure in the right areas, with the sole purpose of crowding in private sector investment that will not only boost the rates base but create much-needed employment and stimulate economic activity through existing and new value chains.”

Speaking on the development of the project, Mayisela said the city had received two unsolicited enquiries, one from an overseas company and the other a local consortium with overseas partners, on the of leasing council-owned land received between 2018 and 2020.

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